Memorial Day also isn’t the day we remember anyone who has died. In practice, we do that anytime. In the Christian life, we typically remember those who have died on the commemoration of All Saint’s Day, November 1st.
Since All Saint’s Day 2016, Hillside has directly been involved in celebrating the lives of at least twelve people, with nine of those actually being funerals officiated by our pastoral staff at the church or the graveside. That’s twelve funerals in seven months, and almost as many (13) as there were from All Saint’s 2015 to All Saint’s 2016.
Funerals have a way of providing markers for the passage of time. We remember days and locations of funerals. We say things like “It’s been 5 years since…” And we recognize anniversaries of deaths and burials with flowers and wreaths and other memorializing practices. This can all accumulate in our hearts and minds, and become somewhat of a heavy burden in the life of a congregation. We can look in our pews and see where a beloved disciple once sat, and prayed, and worshiped.
But we are not a people fashioned to dwell in the pit or the “darkest valley”. Through Christ, we are a people of resurrection promise and new life. In funerals, we grieve the death of a loved one, and we celebrate their new life in God’s company. So even though by the numbers we’ve seen our fair share recently, of funerals and bereavement meals, we do so remembering that God’s love redeemed the world not only in the long shadow of the cross, but more openly in the empty garden tomb.
What’s equally important is what happens before the funeral, that is, participation in the Body of Christ; God’s Church. It is here, in present company with the saints of today, that our faith in God is nurtured, our lives supported, and our relationships bolstered. I encourage you into this community and family of God, because if there’s one thing I hear at funerals, it that people are so grateful for the connections they and their loved ones have with the congregation, and the life-changing ministry in which we all share.
Be Excellent To Each Other! <>< Rev. Andy Beck